Fuse – formerly known as Overstrike back when it was colorful and a little more unique – is a third-person cooperative shooter set in the modern day. It follows a group of soldiers with shiny guns and a mysterious, and most definitely evil, organization that they have to take down at any cost. If that sounds like every other game you’ve ever played, unfortunately, I don’t have much to say that will change your mind.
I won’t bury the lead: Fuse is not a terribly original game. It suffers from playing it far too safe, and the result is a game that feels like it was rushed out after someone realized what they have looks, plays and sounds like a majority of the other third-person action adventure shooters available today.
This is unfortunate, because as a longtime fan of Insomniac, who brought us Ratchet & Clank and Resistance, I know this is a developer that can create unique experiences. Resistance may not be wholly original – it’s a shooter set after an alien invasion, after all – but its setting, characters, and inventive arsenal of weapons helped set it apart. They’re known for their uncommon weapon design, yet somehow, that creativity is missing in Fuse.
That’s especially strange, seeing as this game essentially revolves around the four one-of-a-kind weapons the Overstrike 9 team finds in a base that’s being overrun by a greedy organization at the start of the game. Each weapon is different and tied to one of the four playable agents.
There’s Dalton, the sarcastic mercenary who’s armed with the Mag Shield, a gun that can deploy a shield which absorbs enemy fire and expels the excess energy to dissolve anything directly in front of him. Then there’s Naya, whose dad works for Raven (the bad guys). She can cloak and her Warp Rifle coats enemies in Fuse, creating black holes that can kill anyone caught in the blast. Izzy is the team’s resident scientist, and she comes with the Shattergun, a weapon that crystallizes the target, eventually shattering them. Lastly, we have Jacob, an ex-detective who wields a powerful crossbow called the Arcshot.
If you’re playing locally – alone or using two-player split-screen – you can switch between the four agents during the campaign. Otherwise up to four people can play together in the fully cooperative campaign, or its wave survival centric Echelon mode.
The majority of the game, which is divided into several lengthy chapters, has the four soldiers attempting to take down the shadowy Raven organization and squash their greedy plans for the alien Fuse substance. Originally, it was planned to be used as a source of clean energy, but that was before humans got involved and decided they’d rather kill stuff with it.
I’m not particularly fond of any of the four Fuse weapons, though each does a fantastic job of giving each member of the Overstrike 9 squad a specific role in each combat situation. I think they could’ve been pushed farther, primarily to enhance the cooperative element of this game. If the guns worked together in certain ways, combining the weapons’ unique abilities, that would’ve been nice.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Fuse weapons aren’t the only ones in this game. I wish they were, because the remaining selection is your generic selection of rifles, shotguns, pistols and SMGs.
When you grow tired of the weapons, you can always rely on the excellent, and insanely over-the-top, executions each agent has. The animation in this game is superb, so it’s always fun walking up to a guy and watching as my girl twists, spins, and kicks the guy, sending him flying. There are a few very light – and entirely optional – stealth sections where you can time your executions on unsuspecting enemies so as not to alert their friends. They’re optional and could’ve used a bit more fleshing out, but whenever I was given the opportunity I took it, even if it was to break up the monotony of the combat.
Unfortunately, Fuse is one of those games that sends you from one fight to the next, sprinkled with a little narration and the occasional “boss” fight. Every one of these overstays its welcome, and while the voice work and writing is mostly good, there just isn’t enough of it.
I appreciate Insomniac’s attempt at bringing gamers a cooperative shooter that’s been built from the ground up with co-op in mind, but I think the decision to make this a tamer experience than it was originally (back when it was titled Overstrike and had an art style closer aesthetically to Team Fortress) was a poor one. No risks were taken – it’s almost as if they had a checklist of clichés and their goal was to incorporate every one.
Weird mech suits that take an hour to destroy? Check. Realistic art style? Check. A basic arsenal of weapons? Check.The comically over-the-top bad guy, with a thick foreign accent? Check and check.
There really isn’t much I can say to help sell this game. It’s a solid game that looks good and plays well, and its cooperative Echelon mode ripped straight out of Gears of War, Halo, Left 4 Dead, etc. is genuinely fun. The only problem is it’s not particularly memorable. Fuse can provide a weekend’s worth of entertainment, but I guarantee you’ll soon forget it.
Reviewed By: Adam Dodd
Publisher: Electronic Arts
This review is based on a copy of Fuse for the Xbox 360 provided by Electronic Arts.
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